The rise and rise of India’s fashion industry
WITH the Indian fashion industry booming, homegrown models are in demand and western girls want a piece of the action too
India’s modelling industry is on the rise, but not solely from within. Glitz, glamour, money and fame are just some of the motivations for aspiring Indian models, and these universal factors are contributing to an influx from the west as models and brands seek opportunities in a less crowded market.
In contrast to their international counterparts, Indian models traditionally start their careers much later, with an emphasis on education. Stereotypically, it would be only the affluent and broad-minded parents who let their children be seduced by the industry in India – in contrast to the western approach, which scouts for teenage girls on high streets and at shopping centres. Models in India tend to start in their early 20s, knowing that if it all goes wrong they will have their education to fall back on, and they have the luxury to do so since their careers have a longer span – even until their late 30s. As Malini Banerji, fashion editor of Elle India explains, “Culturally we are a little different because education is of prime importance to India. I don’t think there are any girls who skip schooling and just take on modeling.”
However, this is a developing India and one that is modernising rapidly. Designer stores are opening up in the big cities and the focus on fashion means both the modelling and fashion industries are booming. Coupled with the abundance of local and foreign models thronging Delhi and Mumbai, the industry is on a high. As Varun Rana, fashion features editor for Harpers Bazaar India explains, “It’s supply versus demand. That’s all there is to it. Fashion shows have become regular features every three months.”
The country is a haven for models to endorse brands, appear on the covers of magazines such as Vogue and Elle India and even land a role in Bollywood. Rates aren’t bad either. India hosts four seasonal national fashion weeks every year and an array of smaller local fashion weeks.
Modelling agencies and grooming schools are setting up shop, while foreign models capitalise on the work available. “Most foreign models would come because India is what we call a developing market. They come here to build on their books, gain experience,” says Mark Luburic, of Anima Creative Management. “Girls from Europe and Brazil enter the Indian modelling market and often leave with a great editorial presence as part of their portfolio. This is a big carrot for models and agencies alike.”
Scouting and pageants are even starting to take place in rural villages, marking a sea change not just in the industry but society itself. Vogue India put a stamp on this shift in 2010 with the cover line ‘Dawn of the dusk’, in reference to “the skin tone the world covets”. Indian models are appearing more often on the pages of fashion glossies and Elite Model Management has recently set up its first base there.
So, where next for the Indian modelling scene? We’ve already seen a few Indian exports internationally and this number can only rise. “Our youth is our biggest strength so we’re only going to move up. We’re nowhere near established, and that’s our strength. We’re hungry for more and we’re raring to go,” says Rana.
There’s a ferocious ambition seen in the models, whether it’s to succeed nationally or internationally, in the fashion capitals of Paris, Milan, New York or London. “Eventually, it’s about success, recognition, fame and money, and in what order ... that changes from person to person.”
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Thursday 20 June 2013
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